Brad Bigford, a Sculptor Who Helped Found the New Territory Arts District, Deconstructs Masterpieces Into Jigsaw Puzzles at The Livery Brew Pub, Benton Harbor.

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When I witnessed the new work of Benton Harbor local Brad Bigford, I snapped a few iPhone shots and texted Cheri Lesaukis, jewelry artisan living in Athens, Georgia. Back when the Livery Brew Pub opened in October 2005, Lesaukis and Bigford lived in a transitional neighborhood in Benton Harbor, carving a compound out of an assemblage of houses. The complex included raised ponds with cement fragment walls, furnished with koi and lily pads. One house contained Bigford’s amazing and extensive collection of action figurines. A second house had rooms so well turned as to be camera ready for Architectural Digest. Bigford had then and still has a sterling reputation for turning ruined houses in Benton Harbor into masterpieces. In fact, the restoration of the turn of the century Livery into a brewpub and concert hall bears the fingerprint of Bigford. That said, as soon as I saw these works turning masterpieces into wooden constructions, I wrote Cheri, his former wife. “Cheri, Brad will never be over you”.

I’ve hung with Bigford, educated at nearby Andrews University. I can keep up with his raw manipulative energy. If a sculptor can’t work as frenetically and playfully and energetically as Bigford, I’ll advise accounting or sales as a profession. Bigford’s energy is my touchstone for identifying a sculptor by pure energy.

I monitor artists for break points and breakthroughs. These exhibit these two signs of explosive growth. In fact, I was in confident that all twenty and more works were his until I read his labels. Encyclopedic and well-versed in art history, I was sure of his authorship by the snarky tone.

The Livery is the prototype for any brewery that has ambitions as an art center. The Livery encompasses so much, from the art on the third level to the bands that Grace the stage. It’s no wonder that the New Territory Arts District grew up around the Liveey and the studio of Chicago sculptor, Richard Hunt. That rightness of ten years ago feels palpable today.

Bigford’s exhibit “Stolen Masterpieces”, can be seen during regular hours at The Livery in Benton Harbor.

Monday-Thursday: 4:00PM – MIDNIGHT
Friday: 11:30AM – 1:00AM
Saturday: 11:30AM – 1:00AM
Sunday: 12:00PM – MIDNIGHT

The Livery Microbrewery
190 5th St.
Benton Harbor, MI 49022

-Will Juntunen

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